Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 23 April 2017

Hooray to get party started

Wayne Bailey

IT'S the final day of Royal Ascot and generally speaking, I've enjoyed the Festival so far with the highlight being Fame And Glory winning the Gold Cup on Thursday.

World War Three nearly kicked off in my local before Tuesday's St James's Palace stakes as two mates argued about whether the odds-on backers of Frankel needed their heads examined. One of the lads had backed Frankel at 30/100 with a sum equalling a working man's weekly wage, while another had backed Excelebration at 10/1 with a pony (€25), citing the old 'value' argument.

I was acting as referee and trying to keep the peace but secretly, I must admit that I feel the best value these days is often at the shorter end of the market.

We all love trying to pick a nice-priced winner and I'm as big-headed as the next man when I bag one, but a quick look through the stats shows that it would be foolish to dismiss odds-on horses as bad value or too risky.

My figures show that the market is far more efficient at the shorter end and the horses win almost as much as their odds suggest they should. I don't want to give a big maths lesson here, but let's quickly take the prices of the above horses as an example: Frankel went off at 30/100 and those odds suggest that he had a 77pc chance of winning the race.

In the past five years, 126 horses have gone off at that price and 76pc of them have won. That's pretty close to their implied probability then. Excelebration went off at 10/1, suggesting he had a 9.1pc chance of winning.

In the past five years, well over 2,000 horses went at 10/1 but only 6.9pc of them actually won. While 2pc or 3pc in the difference might not seem like much, those are the areas where the bookmaker makes his margin over time.

I understand that newspaper readers don't want to see favourites tipped all the time and value can be found at both ends of the market -- but all I'm saying is that it's worth being aware that that the bigger priced horses (generally speaking) have a bigger bookmaker over-round built in.

Having said all that, I'm actually not too keen on the favourite in today's Golden Jubilee Stakes (3.45 Ascot) and I'm actually going to suggest an each-way bet on the 10/1 shot Hooray instead, as I think she's overpriced. It's my big brother's birthday this weekend and I've promised Alan a few large bottles of stout off the shelf, so hopefully the Mark Prescott-trained three-year-old, with Seb Sanders doing the steering, will help me out.

Delegator has beaten four of these in the past and is sure to be popular in the betting, but he hates the softer ground and may well be withdrawn from the race this morning. The selection ran a poor race in the 1,000 Guineas, but she's essentially a sprinter and couldn't stay the distance so I wouldn't worry too much about that form.

They dropped her back down to seven furlongs last time at Epsom, which worked a treat, but four of her five wins came at today's distance of six furlongs and Chris Richardson, managing director at Cheveley Park, has confirmed that she's in good form at home and will enjoy some cut in the ground.

EACH-WAY OUTSIDER

This year's Wokingham (4.25 Ascot) is a decent renewal and a good case could be made for half a dozen horses. It's wide open, but Fathsta will appreciate the going and has a good turn of foot, which makes his early odds of 25/1 an attractive each-way bet.

TODAY'S SELECTIONS

2.20 Ayr: Margot Did

3.45 Ascot: Hooray (e/w)

4.25 Ascot: Fathsta (e/w)

4.30 Redcar: Academy Blues

5.05 Redcar: Mother Jones

6.0 Lingfield: Red Mischief

7.15 Haydock: Maqaraat

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